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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

The death of Whiti

The death of Whiti.

"Whiti was the name of a Ngati-Mania-poto chief who was killed at Te Horo, the northern end of Pari-ninihi cliff, where the old path left the beach and ascended the cliff to avoid the Taniwha point—a place which is identical with the tunnel that now pierces the cliff, running up at a steep grade from the beach below to a gully at the back of the cliff. Whiti was returning with his party from a raid into the enemies' page 254country—unsuccessful apparently, for he was closely followed by the Ngati-Tama people of Puke-aruhe and Otu-matua pas—and they were making a running fight of it. The northern taua was brought up by the cliff at the foot of Te Horo; there was no escape, except by the steep path that ran sheer up the cliff. At intervals stakes were driven into the ground, to which were attached supplejack ropes, without the aid of which it was scarcely possible to reach the top, Once on the summit, they were safe for the time being

"One by one Whiti's men ascended the cliff, until at last only their brave leader was left below. And now having nobly covered their retreat, he stood, a true warrior at bay, facing his swarming enemies. Not one of his opponents dare attack him. Watching his opportunity he turned suddenly and made a spring up the smooth worn surface of the bare cliff; once past this he was safe, but the fates were against him. Exhausted no doubt by the exertions of his defence, he failed in the attempt and partially slipped back, or hung for a while on the lower edge, and before he could recover himself his enemies below caught him by the ankles and dragged him back to the beach, where he was killed before the eyes of his own people on the cliff above, who were unable to render him any aid.

"This event took place some six or eight generations ago." It is somewhat difficult to understand how Whiti and his party managed to pass the Ngati-Tama fortresses that existed between the scene of his death and Mokau. Possibly Ngati-Tama were away at the time.